One of the last Supernatural episodes of season 12 that was more formulaic and standard MOTW than big-picture focused, "Ladies Drink Free" was a decent easement back after the March mini-hiatus. Even in retrospect, the episode offered entertainment and drama without too much heady overflow in advance of what the rest of the season would bring.
#Millennial Hunter Returns
Claire Novak again is always an interesting character. For every episode she’s in, I’m torn between my genuine enjoyment of the character and the frustration with now redundant anger that the writers inject into Claire for the sake of various plot points. In this case, we rehash the “let me hunt, I want to be a hunter, I can do it – just watch me go” tantrum of Claire’s last appearance, although this time she is hunting and doing a decent job. Of course she’s doing it in secret from Jody. The purpose of this tantrum feels more so she can have the argument with Sam and wander out on to the path…etc., etc. It’s nothing I would call subtle.
As I said, I really like Claire. I have enjoyed her relationship with Dean as it developed, some of the interactions with Castiel (though even this writing seemed circular at times) and the pseudo-family between Alex, Jody and Claire. In this episode – between the behaviours that make me want to put Claire somewhere as early teen, rather than looking to college at times – she even had moments with Sam that were somewhat ironically parallel to his own relationship with his family.
All in all, Claire was enjoyable on whole in the episode. Having her bit and cured wasn’t unexpected – but that’s okay. We had a pretty serious and intense werewolf episode last season which was enough heartbreak for me. In the end, there is no more “resolution” for Claire than last time we saw her – at least, not truly. Did she learn a lesson? Was she meant to? She is going to continue hunting, on her own. The difference is she will let Jody know now. Okay – so I suppose she can call the Winchesters for help now if need arises.
Ultimately the plot wasn’t really about Claire learning any lesson – instead she was the means to teach Mick about the people behind the teeth and fangs contingent that he murders. Still, her sardonic humour and Dean’s protective threats are fun once and while.
“Killing monsters is what we do. Or maybe palling around with demons and witches, you've forgotten.”
On first viewing this episode, Mick is the over-eager wealthy new kid on the block trying to attract friends with the shiniest toys, the coolest tech and the pool in his yard. Both boys are great to watch with their reactions to Mick admitting he couldn’t get anything more than a three-star hotel with separate suites for all.
And while the Winchesters are okay with enjoying the pool and tech for a little while, it doesn’t negate their instincts. Dean instantly notices Mick is off the day after he has killed Hayden, and zeros in on the injured shoulder too, not letting either go without a discussion and a Winchester-style conversation with Mick: some guilt and pain and a morals lesson to top it all off.
The tricky thing about Mick’s character is how affable he is even when we know he’s a villain, or at the vary least part of a villainous organization. Part of me wanted Mick to be genuine and confess to the brothers the dastardly plan of the BMoL. In retrospect, we know that Mick is in fact a sincere man who, if he doesn’t start out understanding that the BMoL is wrong to do things like murder teenage werewolf girls without trying alternatives first, comes to realize it through working with Sam and Dean.
“…you think it’s that simple, huh?... well, here's a little tip. Things aren't just black and white out here. All you have is a case in front of you, like Hayden. A few months ago, there was this kid, this psychic. She was killing people, but she didn't mean to hurt anyone. She was being abused. So we gave her a second chance because it was the right thing to do.”
Absolutes Beget Irony
At the start of their quest, Mick explains to Sam and Dean that there hasn’t been a werewolf killing in Britain for almost a century.
“Britain's last werewolf outbreak was in the '20s. We rooted them out, bitten and pureblood alike.”
While it seems highly unlikely that EVERY SINGLE wolf in an entire country was killed, considering how the “virus” is spread it is also incredible that none ever returned in that time frame. This bold statement, in re-watch, is further evidence of just how much propaganda and ego the BMoL feed their people. Wow.
That aside, the whole reason for the current werewolf case is to show the direct result of the British MoL themselves, or their hunter recruits, slaughtering a pack. The bartender who turns Claire and others to rebuild his pack, describes a pack of twenty, happily, living peacefully, werewolves being butchered without cause using new weapons. So, that’s a high death count for trying to “save” victims who weren’t being killed.
Mick of course steps up and helps save Claire from becoming a werewolf, without killing her. This is the whole point of the adventure: so Mick can understand a monster is not always the one with the claws and the fangs. It’s an old lesson and something we knew from the moment Toni Babble shot Sam way back at the end of season eleven. Nevertheless, season twelve didn’t do a bad job of presenting characters like Mick in episodes like "Ladies" to offer some hesitation about whether BMoL was a fully “monstrous” organization, and exploring if they had some potential for partnership with hunters after all?
In retrospect, we know of course they were the horrible people we thought. This was sufficiently solidified when Mick did in fact change after this experience and defended the Winchester way, only to end up dead for his morals in 12.17.
"Ladies Drink Free" is an entertaining episode that, on second review, is all about establishing Mick’s moral journey to martyrdom one episode later. Interestingly, he is the only character to ultimately learn anything from the experience (other than the plasma to cure werewolf-bites) in a profound way. Outside of Mick, the episode stands as the standard MoTW with snarky dialogue at times and good character bonding with Claire.
A decent episode before the season gears up to collecting the final plot-driving momentum in the last weeks.
How did "Ladies" slot into the overall scene that was the latter-half of season 12 for you?
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